Archive for the 'Computers' Category

Wikimania 2007

March 10, 2007

I’m not much of a conference guy. I remember volunteering to help at Linux.Conf.Au when it came to Canberra in 2005, but that’s about it. However, I’m fairly certain I’ll be attending the annual Wikipedia/Wikimedia meetup, Wikimania, when it hits Taiwan in early August.

If I’m lucky enough to go this year, it would be in the semi-official self-important role of “Podcaster d00d”, along with Andrew, Liam and hopefully the mysterious Tawker and others. In general, we’ll be involved with covering the event in the spirit of citizen journalism; recordings of each talk will presumably be made available online, but we’ll be concerned with recording as much of the event as we think would be interesting. That includes attendees’ comments, interviews with the speakers, and so on.

We already have a few ideas for how this could be done. Here are a few:

  • We could produce a shortened episode of the podcast for each day of the conference. This would probably run for half an hour or less, and preferably include a rundown of the day’s events, ideally including a brief audio clip from each talk and perhaps a quick chat with a few speakers.
  • Brief interviews with attendees, from which we could extract 3-4 soundbites to be interspersed through the day’s episode.
  • Video recordings of the day. Due to bandwidth concerns, these would probably need to be limited in duration and so lend themselves best to short interviews and the like. We’ll need to find a decent camera for this.
  • An audio workshop, running through our methods for recording the podcast. This would probably be of interest to the Wikiversity crowd, as that project has made heavier use of user-produced audio than most others.

I’m sure there are plenty more ideas to be had on that front. Even if I can’t personally go, Andrew will certainly be in a position to go through with at least a few of the above and probably more besides. I’ll create this page at Wikipedia in a little while so can collect a list of ideas for the event, and I’d love to hear what other people think we could do.


How to influence people

February 27, 2007

Larry Sanger’s Citizendium is just drowning in good press these days. Unfortunately for the site, two slashdottings later the site is still struggling to keep up a decent rate of expansion: the “Big Write” project fizzled, and hundreds of new users in just a few days have done little in terms of writing new content. So, when Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson posted a glowing three-page review of the Wikipedia alternative, it was another chance for Citizendium to leap to the big time.

However, the resulting discussion thread turned out a little differently. The response was overwhelmingly negative, despite the best efforts of Citizendium’s Jason Potkanski, an Ars reader and forum denizen himself.

This is where the story gets interesting, though. It seems that Larry saw the discussion thread, which had been linked to on his site’s official blog, and decided to take a read. Here is his response (emphasis mine):

Jason, why do you waste your time in that discussion? Clearly you’re dealing with a bunch of jackals there who simply hate the idea of the project. There will be only more and more such people as we become more and more successful. No one cared much last September, so we only had a few negative reactions, all of them saying that it can’t work; but now that we’ve got over 1,000 articles, many hundreds of participants, consistently well over 500 edits per day (and pushing toward 1000 regularly), with scores of regular contributors…well, some people are evidently starting to feel threatened by us.



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Citizendium struggles to convert publicity into content

February 14, 2007

Citizendium was slashdotted again recently, prompting the creation of 900 new user accounts in the last 24 hours. So, following up from my recent post on their last slashdotting, how has this affected the site’s performance?

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I’m blinded by awesome

February 10, 2007

What can I say, but: less than three.  Srsly.

The highlight of the video would be this:

Less than three, O-M-G,
Love computer fantasy,
Meet me here on IRC,

Citizendium since the slashdotting

February 9, 2007

Following on from the recent slashdotting of Citizendium, I thought it might be worth breaking down the numbers to see how they’re faring since the article ran. They appear to have weathered the ‘Slashdot effect’, which involves ten of thousands of geeks descending upon a page in a short space of time (usually bringing it to its knees in the process), but how has the publicity affected the project itself?

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Astroturfing Wikipedia, literally

February 9, 2007

From the Wikipedia Signpost:

In a case of living up (or down?) to its contribution to the English language, AstroTurf became the object of an astroturfing effort on Wikipedia. A public relations firm for the brand was revealed to have been editing the article, as well as that of a competing brand of artificial turf, FieldTurf.

Well, at least they weren’t entirely retarded.

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Have fun with javascript

February 4, 2007

Via dotorg:

Hey everyone, want to do something fun?

Copy this to your clipboard:

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.images; DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position=’absolute’; DIS.left=Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5;*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5}R++}setInterval(‘A()’,5); void(0);

Then move back to the forum index or Google. Any site at all, really.

Once the site has loaded, paste the code above into the address bar, replacing the address of the website.

Press enter, and the fun will start.

This works best in the original forum thread. Just trust me on that. ;)

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Still not dead

January 29, 2007

On Saturday my iBook returned from repairs after the excellent logicboard failure, ready to be abused once more. Poor thing.

Fortunately for it, I haven’t really been around all that much in recent days: the week without internet access at either my house or Alexis’ has taken its toll on my usually-blazing need for connectivity, and I’ve been pretty damn lax about getting online. In penitence, I’ve downloaded a trial copy of ecto, a handy cross-platform application that will hopefully let me avoid WordPress’ ass of a web interface. From my parents’ basement in Wyoming, I stab at thee.

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I just watched my laptop die

January 15, 2007


So at 11.30 this morning, I was busily surfing the net and otherwise wasting my life, when suddenly something strange happened. The screen of my 18-month old iBook began to display a “comb” of vertical lines across both it and the external monitor I had attached. It’s difficult to explain: the screen now displays a series of shifting vertical lines (they shift whenever the image changes, like every time I type a character) which persist indefinitely.

I restarted my computer, and they were still there. Hell, one screen still displayed a pattern of vertical lines that still displayed the image that had been in place before I shut down the machine.

TechTool Deluxe 3.0.1, the recovery software that came with my extended warranty, was unable to detect any hardware faults at all: specifically, it passed the CPU, RAM and VRAM checks (almost everything else was I/O-related). This leads me to believe that I watched my motherboard fry itself to death.

Here’s a cropped screenshot (yes, it shows up in screenshots):

My laptop is now non-operational (well, screwed; I’m using it now, but it’s hardly what I’d call “fun”)… just like Alexis’ computer, her dad’s printer, and my printer.

So much broken hardware, all at once. :(

Update: Goddamnit! The problem is only intermittent… which is probably going to make fixing this so much harder.